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  • List Manager

    I might have asked this before, but I'm hoping someone will have a new/different suggestion for me.

    I'm having a very difficult time with my list organization. I'm okay with Outlook making a task from an email, that seems to work okay for me--almost too well...it's all I do these days. I get a ton of email and I'm finding that I end up doing too much of just the email work because it's handy, I'm already in Outlook and so I just do it.

    I've been winging it with all these lists in Outlook, but I'm now drowning so I really MUST have two separate places to keep them. I've been trying to make Outlook work since May and I never seem to emerge from the emails that keep flowing in. I need to force myself away, but I need a good, solid place to go or it just sucks me back in.

    I need to get other stuff done so I need get away from the Outlook tasks and go to a different place for any tasks that not email related. Thus, I went searching for a list manager software. I found a To-Do List software where I can keep a number of lists and I was wondering if anyone else has used it before.

    http://www.beiley.com/todo_list/index.html

    It's not perfect, but I'm able to move things around more easily than in an Excel speadsheet which is what I thought I'd try until I came across this program. If no one has tried it or if anyone has a good list software to suggest, I'd be so grateful. I've tried nearly everything since May.

    I know I'm adding another place to check, but I have to do something soon. I'm staying in Outlook far too long and then everything else turns into a panic situation.

    I can't be the only one...can I?

  • #2
    Turning off e-mail...

    E-mail can be a huge distraction. Whatever you can do to get into a focused working state is the right thing for you. For me it is as simple as moving from Outlook with my Inbox open to Outlook with my Calendar open.

    I find that when I have my Inbox open and e-mails are coming in, I am very much in reactive mode. When I have my Calendar open, I have in front of me the work I've planned for the current moment and it helps me focus on that activity.

    I also recommend shutting off automatic e-mail notification. The beauty of e-mail is that it will be there when we get back to it. It doesn't hurt to take you're phone off the hook every once in a while either...

    If another software product works for you great then do that. I find the overhead of multiple locations to be a problem however and try to keep everything on Outlook and sync it to my Palm.

    Let us know what you think of the software you are testing...

    Comment


    • #3
      I tried...

      I don't have the notification on and I'm trying only to use the Tasks screen instead of the inbox view unless I'm responding to a message. I don't really do anything using the calendar, no meetings or whatever, just the occasional appointment. I have, however, tried to "block" time for tasks other than email, but I just can't seem to make myself stop. It's like it "calls" to me...one of my clients insists that I answer all email within 24 hours and so I'm always afraid I'll miss one.

      I have a triple monitor setup and so everything is always open and readily available. Anyway, I see all this email that needs attention and I just go ahead and get that done and I look up and three hours has gone by. I just simply snooze the alerts that I've set up.

      I guess what I thought would help is a more fun place to put my lists so that I'd enjoy reviewing them and seeing other things to do that don't involve email. I find myself living in Outlook and I thought a change would do me good or get me out of my rut.

      The software is really just a check off list with categories (a variation of GTD) and you can open files/Web sites from within the program, but it turns out that the popups don't have a snooze button...their support was very kind and told me that they hadn't had many requests for it, but would consider it.

      If only I were more disciplined, this wouldn't be such a problem. Thanks for letting me vent.

      I did just find this for Outlook 12:

      http://blogs.msdn.com/melissamacbeth/default.aspx

      If I can get through until Outlook 12 comes out, it might be my answer. Pretty neat!! And might be just the right thing for me.
      Last edited by airolg; 01-05-2006, 09:50 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Outlook 12

        Thanks for the link. For those who have not looked at it, it makes explicit mention of David Allen and Sally McGhee.

        I found fascinating Microsoft's research showing that only 30% of Outlook users use Tasks.

        It seems as if the Holy Grail would be for Microsoft to put a hierarchical outliner in tasks. I wonder why they don't.

        Comment


        • #5
          Email Protocol

          Originally posted by airolg
          I don't have the notification on ...

          ...one of my clients insists that I answer all email within 24 hours and so I'm always afraid I'll miss one.

          I have a triple monitor setup and so everything is always open and readily available. Anyway, I see all this email that needs attention...
          If you have three screens running and one always has the Outlook Inbox open you are going to get more distracted than if you just had notification on. You will be constantly scanning that window to see if your special client has sent you something. I suggest leaving the notification off, and not having the Inbox up unless you intend to send or read email.

          As for the special client there are two options:
          1. If they need a response quickly, ask them to send the email urgent, and set up a notification rule for urgent emails. This would be a good offer for all clients.
          2. Set up a rule to pop up a notification any time that client sends you an email.
          In general it may help to establish an email protocol. I let all my clients know that I process my email three times a day. In the morning I do a full review as one of my first next actions. Here's how that works:
          • if I need to respond AND I can do so in less than 2 minutes AND it needs an immediate response I just do so
          • if I need to respond and the conditions above are not met, I file it in @Email respond
          • if it needs to be delegated, I forward a copy to the appropriate person and file in @Waiting for
          • if less than 2 minutes reference just read and file appropriately
          • if more than 2 minutes reference, file in @Email R&F
          • if there is no response needed, but action is needed, I generate an appropriate Task and file it appropriately (these sometimes expand into projects)
          • if none of the above, I trash it
          This gets me through my email pretty quickly. My next task is usually to go through my @Email respond folder. I do this ONCE a day. I may not respond to everything in that folder on a particular day. Usually I do clear it each day, but I don't let it take over too much of my day.

          The other two email scans happen at noon and end of day. I follow the same protocol, but keep to my commitment to respond ONCE a day.
          Last edited by gordonsta; 01-06-2006, 03:55 PM. Reason: Add Title

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          • #6
            Originally posted by moises
            Thanks for the link. For those who have not looked at it, it makes explicit mention of David Allen and Sally McGhee.

            I found fascinating Microsoft's research showing that only 30% of Outlook users use Tasks.

            It seems as if the Holy Grail would be for Microsoft to put a hierarchical outliner in tasks. I wonder why they don't.
            I think that ultimately this will be accomplished in One Note.

            Tom S.

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            • #7
              List Manager Application

              Has anyone taken a look at cyACT? Its an app for desktop and PPC from cywren systems that looks interesting. From what I've seen it looks like it can adapt well to GTD but I've never seen mention of it here on the forums.

              Comment


              • #8
                I understand. And I understand the feeling of not being as powerful as you want to be to acomplish what you believe that you can or should.

                You need to have time where your computer is off or outlook is not running. Then schedule times to check email.

                You may even need to purchase a separate personal laptop computer and remove Outlook from it and do not connect it to the internet. Just set it on your desk and transfer files with a memory stick.

                This laptop could have your lists and the software you need to work.

                You can configure Outlook to open and prompt you for if it should connect. When I start Outlook it asks me if I want to work offline or connect. This allows me to use my calendar in Outlook without seeing new email.

                You seem to want to use software. If your "other" work that you need to do is not on the computer, you may need to shut the computer off and use paper task lists. That works for me.

                Turn off your computer. Set a timer. Do your work. Turn on the computer and check only for email that needs attention now. Turn off the computer. Work again.

                Oh, and ListPro is the best list software I have seen. It is very powerful. Maybe two powerful. You can spend too much time playing with it.

                Some people, and I am one of those, need to mentally "go deep" to think about work and get things done. We do not surf on the top. When we are forced to come up, it takes time to go deep again, and if you are constantly called up toward the surface, we never get deep enough to actually get work done. You need to come up with a plan to allow you to go deep for periods of time to allow yourself to get things done, and you need to protect your time and space like a mama bear protecting her cubs. At my company, one of my firends will close and lock his door for periods of time. When you knock on his door, it will anser by opening up the door slightly and blocking the door with his body to not allow you to enter. He will be nice and polite but will not promise anything and will not come out to help others. This works for him because there is enough time during the day where hid door is open and he is helpful and he is a good worker.

                There is a book, Never Check E-Mail In the Morning : And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work, by Julie Morgenstern.

                An interesting site:

                http://john.redmood.com/organizers.html

                .
                Last edited by tim99; 01-11-2006, 12:24 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Unshackle the New Media

                  Absolutely great advice to shut off the computer and turn off email autonotification (after all, we have a mailbox outside the house that's available to people 24-7, but we don't check it 40 times a day, do we?).

                  It's not an accident that the idea of "continuous partial attention"--a diminished state of effectivness that comes from attending to multiple communication inputs at the same time--came from Linda Stone at Microsoft. They know it's a big problem, and it's one they're trying to solve.

                  (There's an account of a recent speech by Stone on the topic here .)

                  Frankly, shut off your cell phone, pager, Blackberry, and Treo while you're at it. We need white space to think, work, and process. You may not be accessible, but trust me: you're still available. If somebody absolutely needs to get you during that hour or two (or three), they will.

                  It's essential to a decent workflow, and frankly, quality of life. Communication technology affords enormous advantages, but every technology also creates it's own problems -- continuous partial attention being one.

                  From time to time each day, unshackle the new media and set your work free. You'll be glad you did.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by airolg
                    ... I need to get other stuff done so I need get away from the Outlook tasks and go to a different place for any tasks that not email related. Thus, I went searching for a list manager software. I found a To-Do List software where I can keep a number of lists and I was wondering if anyone else has used it before.

                    http://www.beiley.com/todo_list/index.html

                    I can't be the only one...can I? ...
                    Lots of other good stuff in the replies you've already received but I just wanted to point you at a List Manager I've found very good. It's ListPro and you can can find it at www.iliumsoft.com. It allows hierarchical lists and a variety of other fields you can customise.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Listpro

                      I have been using Listpro for about 2 years and it is great. In the past I have just used it for to-do lists. I still will use it for reference data. I have recently been implementing GTD and have been using Listpro. I have file called GTD with all my lists in it. I made sure all my NA lists have the exact same columns so that I can move NAs if needed between contexts. The columns are Item - NA - Notes. I have a seperate list for Projects and have heirarchys with items crossed off when completed. I have a calender file. I just input the calender item and then quickly sort the date column. It is very quick simple and easy to use and it syncs easily with my PDA

                      Steve

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